CREATURAMA ‘THE WHY’

The Work of Artist Anthony James

CREATURAMA ‘THE WHY’

Me and my dad.

I’ve ran CREATURAMA as a business since around 1992, but it was a long road traveled to get there!

I suppose my interest in ‘Creatures’ started with my father.  A coal miner from South Wales he moved to the Midlands to work in the new car manufacturing boom of the 1950’s, but his childhood home was Aberdare in ‘The Valleys’.

My father had a very strong connection with the natural world. He loved walking, a pastime I, as a precocious 8 year old, did not enjoy half as much, but it’s the time walking with my father that introduced me to the complexities of the creatures that inhabit the mundane world around us, and their interconnections with each other.

On a Sunday morning, while my mother was busy creating the largest Sunday dinners I have ever experienced – mountains of Yorkshire pudding and mash potato, dwarfing anything created by Richard Dreyfus in ‘Close Encounters of The Third Kind’ – my dad would grab his cap, light his pipe and force me from my television watching (usually Gerry Anderson productions like THUNDERBIRDS or STINGRAY), to accompany him on long rambling walks. At this time we lived in Bedworth and these walks would inevitably end up heading towards the Arbury Estate, which sits in between Bedworth and Nuneaton.

In a culvert, near the gatehouse, in clear deep water, shaded by trees, were freshwater pike. Wonderful silver ghosts, lying motionless in the clear water, waiting for baby perch to swim by, then in a flash, the torpedo shaped predator would shoot forward, and the little struggling perch were now a pike’s dinner.

Through drooping sunlit branches, dragonflys would dance, while my Dad would pick wild windberries for us to eat.

On misty mornings march hare’s would leap into the air, batting each other for the attentions of a female. Big brown deer would spring out of the hedge in front of us and hurtle into the undergrowth and all around were the hum of insects and the symphony of birdsong.

Occasionally we would walk up along the Raywoods in Stockingford and into Bermuda. Here was a large quarry filled with deep blue water, a bit otherworldly, a barren rocky landscape around a deep blue pool. My dad would look on bemused as I scampered after basking lizards.

For many years I took these little trips for granted, and as a teenager, trips like this with my father were seriously ‘uncool’ but I never forgot them, and gradually over time my interest in the natural world just expanded exponentially. My science fiction passion then capitalised on this interest in natural history; and the combination led really to CREATURAMA, where I create my own ‘natural histories’ for creatures from other worlds and ‘realise’ ancient creatures.

CREATURAMA allows me to share the wonder of those long ago trips with my father with both adults and children alike, and combined with my interest in model building (again attributed to those Gerry Anderson shows) my work I hope captures just a little of that magic, and shares it.

I lost my beloved father in 2008, but he lived to see me create CREATURAMA and even helped here and there with painting etc. I will be forever grateful for these misty morning trips into wonderland with this very special man.

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